The Clumsy Builder

In Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, Archbishop Ullathorne gives us the delightful and instructive analogy of The Clumsy Builder.

“The building will now be complete, provided it has had a wise and skilful builder who really under stands his work. But it not unfrequently happens that the builder is without knowledge, and undoes with one hand what he does with the other. Like a bungler, he pushes one stone down whilst putting up another, and is so awkward at times, that in setting up one stone he will pull down two.” He gives these examples:

“Some one hits you with a sharp word; you take it silently and bear it patiently. Presently you meet a friend; you tell him how you have been insulted; you warm upon it, exaggerate the fact, and conclude by saying how patient and silent you were.” He asks, “Don’t you see that in putting up one stone you have pulled down two?”

“Another gets some deserved rebuke, and bears it for the credit it will do him. This one cannot distinguish between humility and vainglory; he pulls down the very stone he is putting up.”

“Another receives rebuke, but without knowledge, for he thinks that all that is required is silence, and forgets to submit his heart. But another will even magnify himself in secret, and fancy he is doing great things in bearing rebuke, and that he is very humble withal. Unhappy man! He acts without knowledge.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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